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Hundreds attend funeral of heart transplant teen Jessica Brooks

Hundreds of mourners turned out to celebrate the life of heart transplant patient Jessica Brooks.

The 18-year-old’s funeral on Friday marked the first anniversary of the transplant which gave her a precious extra year with her family.

Jessica, of Louisville Avenue, Gillingham, was told in February last year that her only chance of survival was to have surgery.

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks

She had been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to become stretched and thin so it cannot pump blood around the body effectively.

Eight days after being told she only had around two weeks to live, a donor heart became available for Jessica, a former pupil at The Victory Academy in Chatham.

But after making excellent progress, returning to normal life, and having time with her family and friends, she became ill and died in hospital on January 17.

Her funeral took place at the Garden of England Crematorium in Bobbing, near Sittingbourne.

Mourners entering the chapel at the Garden of England Crematorium for Jessica's funeral
Mourners entering the chapel at the Garden of England Crematorium for Jessica's funeral

Jessica’s bravery in adversity and her determination to support the transplant system led to her being nominated for Pride in Medway. One week before her funeral, her family accepted her posthumous award at a certificate presentation.

Her coffin, covered in pictures of the teen and topped with a sunflower and a guitar, was carried in a white horse-drawn carriage.

VIDEO: Hundreds gather to celebrate the life of Jessica Brooks

The Rev Saju Muthalaly, from St Mark’s Church in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, led the service which featured songs Jessica had picked herself including Funeral by Lukas Graham, which played as Jessica’s friends and family made their way into the crematorium.

Floral tributes left for Jessica
Floral tributes left for Jessica

She also picked Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers, Make You Feel My Love by Adele, Dear Darlin’ by Olly Murrs and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.

Her sister Abbigail Brooks-Barry tearfully read out a poem she had written for Jessica. She included some of her fondest memories of her sister, including watching her smile, laugh and dance.

Abbigail also said Jessica would never be able to tell her off for not doing her eyebrows perfectly.

Scotty Bassett, one of Jessica’s friends sang Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx.

Flowers left for Jessica
Flowers left for Jessica

He said: “I was at one her parties and we started singing together. That was one of the best nights of my life.”

Her mum, Emily Brooks, read out a letter Jessica wrote on the eve of her surgery a year before.

She said: “Thank you for being there every step of the way. I’ll be watching you except when you’re on the toilet. Tell everyone I love them.

Jessica Brooks' funeral was held a year after she had a heart transplant
Jessica Brooks' funeral was held a year after she had a heart transplant

“I’ll be there during the hard times. Standing by your side holding your hand.

“PS: I’m yours.”

Mr Muthalaly said: “Jess was able to spend another year with her family which wouldn’t have been possible without the heart transplant.”

The wake was held at Palm Cottage, Canterbury Street, Gillingham.

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